A protest was held in Eyre Square on November 3rd to show support of the LGBT community after anti-LGBT legislation in Italy was passed earlier in the week. Among those who protested was Asia Brodini (she/her) who is a 20-year-old Arts student at NUI Galway. Ms Brodini, who identifies as queer, recently left her home country of Italy right before the start of the term.
When Ms Brodini was 13, she dreamed of leaving Italy because of the homophobia that she experienced. While she was living there, she regularly protested against Anti-LGBT legislation and discrimination, especially the DDL Zan bill.
The DDL Zan bill was originally proposed by Alessandro Zan, a member of Italy’s Partito Democratico (the major left-wing political party in Italy), to extend the Legge Marino law which was originally passed in 1993. The original bill made acts of racial, political, or religious discrimination punishable by up to 4 years imprisonment or community service. The proposed extension of the bill would include acts of discrimination against sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity now punishable in the same capacity. The Senate of Italy recently announced that they would vote against and block DDL Zan.
“When I read the news that the bill was blocked, and saw politicians cheering, it really broke my heart,” said Ms Brodini.
“I just kept thinking of everything that happened to me in Italy and of other people that I knew, and it was so heartbreaking that I wanted to show them support.”
A group of people, mainly students from NUI Galway and Brodini, organized the protest after news broke that the DDL Zan bill would be blocked in Italy.
“I had this rage and I wanted to show the politicians that they are putting shame on Italy.”
At 14, Ms Brodini started to become more interested in protests and started to take part in them when she was around 16 years old. She was used to being a part of the protests at home, but organizing one herself, in such a little amount of time in a new country was difficult. It first started with social media pages and creating social media cards that had information about the bill. The account @galwayagainsthomophobia was created on Instagram and Twitter, aiming for people to spread the word about the upcoming protest in Eyre Square.
“We used social media pages and passed out flyers which was good,” said Ms Brodini. “NUIG societies were also helpful and shared the information on their own social media pages as well.”
The news that the DDL Zan bill was blocked was announced on 29 October and within five days, Asia and a group of friends created a protest.
“I was really lucky with the people that I met here. They wanted to help me, and they helped me a lot. I wouldn’t have been able to have done this without them.”
The protest itself allowed for people who identify as part of the LGBT community to speak about the discrimination they have faced or people they know have faced. Anonymous stories were also read out into the crowd. Around 80 people showed up for the protest, some of them donning rainbow flags wrapped across their bodies, others holding small signs in support, and the letters DDL Zan written on the palms of hands. Speeches were often met with warm applause and constant cheering, however, there was a moment at where passersby’s booed the protesters and name-calling was said on both sides.
“Changing the minds of homophobic people is almost impossible,” said Ms Brodini. “But we can still speak up. I am not going to shut up.”